Saturday, September 19, 2009

Never Again.

From The Times of London online comes this report of new resistance to the dictatorial regime in Iran that is behind so much of the unrest in the Middle East and which constitutes the single biggest obstacle to the peace process:
"In Tehran and other cities, tens of thousands of demonstrators hijacked
Iran’s annual al-Quds Day rallies in support of the Palestinian cause and turned
them into protests against the oppression of Iranians. The security forces hit
back with tear gas and baton charges. There were violent confrontations between
government and opposition supporters in the squares and avenues of central
Tehran and numerous reports of arrests and injuries.

In an address to the Friday prayers gathering in Tehran, Mr Ahmadinejad
caused international outrage by again dismissing the Holocaust as a myth and
claiming that the regime in Israel was collapsing. Yesterday’s turmoil, however,
suggested that his regime was the one in trouble."

We can only hope and pray that the regime falls and the sooner the better. Anything that replaced it would be an improvement, although the new regime would most likely be very far from perfect.

Ahmadinejad is no better than Hitler; and for once the parallel is literally accurate and justified. He is a vicious, unrepentant, open anti-semite with a publicly-announced, murderous agenda. He wants nuclear weapons to use on Israel or, at the very least, to threaten Israel and extract one concession after another until the State of Israel is destroyed. If Israel strikes at Iranian nuclear sites pre-emptively it will be justifiable self-defence just as much as striking the Egyptian air force was in 1967.

The muddle-headed, naive, liberal Westerners who always condemn Israel and who fail to condemn Iran for its attitudes and its actions are exactly the same as the appeasers who failed to stand up to Hitler prior to World War II. Unfortunately for the prospects of world peace, all appearances are that a new Neville Chamberlain now occupies the White House.

It is true that appeasement bought precious time for England to rearm, but why did she disarm in the first place? There is no evidence to suggest that the appeasers had that goal in mind anyway. One historical theory says that Hitler's generals would have staged a coup if the the Western allies had responded forcefully to the re-occupation of the Rhineland. Think of the agony the world would have been spared if that had happened.

Like Hitler, Ahmadinejad is playing a high stakes poker game and, like Hitler, he is not as invincible as he appears. This raises the question of why the West is not more forceful in support of the opponents of the Iranian dictatorship. Is it because it would make the job of those seeking to topple the regime harder if they were seen as puppets of the West? That had better be the real reason; not a craven willingness to appease a crude, violent, evil dictator bent on the destruction of the only state that is anywhere within hailing distance of being a just state in that part of the world.

Never again.

38 comments:

R.O. Flyer said...

"If Israel strikes at Iranian nuclear sites pre-emptively it will be justifiable self-defence just as much as striking the Egyptian air force was in 1967."

Wow, from Yoderian pacifist to defender of pre-emptive strikes! That is quite a leap, Craig!

Andrew said...

I think he's always made quite clear he did not interpret pacifism to require non-Christian states to be pacifist... so it's not that big of a leap

R.O. Flyer said...

I'm not sure what kind of pacifism Craig has advocated in the past. I suppose I just assumed, considering his work on Yoder, that he supported something like Yoderian pacifism. Yoder, of course, would not stand in support of any attempt to justify an Israeli preemptive attack on Iran.

As far as Christian pacifism not "requiring" non-Christian states to be pacifist, I'm not really sure what you mean by this Andrew. Certainly any Christian pacifism claiming to be informed by John Yoder would have to be critical of any sort of state violence (particularly Israeli state violence) and certainly preemptive violence.

Andrew said...

Well, one could construe pacifism as only being required for the church, not for non-Christians. That's what I meant.

Craig Carter said...

RO,
It doesn't seem to me to be as big a leap as defending the Iranians and their clients Hamas, who are commited to destroying the State of Israel. That position appears to be held by a lot of people who claim to follow Yoder and it seems much further from Christianity than my view. I'm not the only one taking sides: I'm just taking a different side.

R.O. Flyer said...

Hmm...interesting. I'd be interested to know what "Yoder follower" you have in mind who supports Palestinian or Iranian violence. Seems pretty unlikely, if you ask me. Just because someone criticizes Israeli state violence, this does not mean they support Palestinian violence.

Craig Carter said...

RO
The fact that you made that last comment must mean that you don't follow world news. You seem to be unaware of the growing movement to dismantle the Israeli State by Arab and Muslim countries and the tacit support given them by Western liberals who demand that Israel unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank without any kind of a verifiable or enforcable peace agreement (two-state solution).

When Israel withdrew from Gaza all it got in return was rockets fired at civilians. But Gaza is further from major population centers than the West Bank is and yet you want Israel to expose its civilian population to rocket fire from the outskirts of Jerusalem. Why?

Your earlier comment that a pacifist influenced by Yoder would condemn "particularly Israeli state violence" gives the game away. Why "especially" Israeli and not the countries that have attacked Israel on average once per decade since the 1940s? This makes some violence worse than other violence; it is taking sides.

You are taking just as much of a stance in favor of the one kind of violence rather than the other as I am but you hide this truth from yourself by pretending that it is OK to criticize the supposedly stronger party almost exclusively. You can't deny that most liberal pacifists (which is what most followers of Yoder have evolved into) don't side with the Palestinians against Israel. The moral smugness that hides behind pacifism while condemning one side more than the other is insufferable. If you think that last comment is unfair, tell me when the last time was a liberal church group advocated a boycott of Iran until it recognizes the State of Israel?

R.O. Flyer said...

For Yoder Christian pacifism is an extension of Judaism. Insofar as the Israeli state violence is done in the name of the Jewish God, Yoder would resolutely oppose this and see this as a massive departure from what it means to be Jewish. That is why Yoder did in fact criticize Israeli state violence.

Your suggestion that Yoderians have evolved into liberal pacifists is simply baseless and unfair.

R.O. Flyer said...

Your suggestion that Israel is the weakling here is just utter nonsense. Israel has one of the most powerful militaries in the entire world and has shown time and again that it has no problems unleashing its military on civilian populations. All of this is done with almost full support of the western world. Despite the rhetoric of the "liberals" you read in the news, the destructive Israeli military exists only because of aid from the west.

Craig Carter said...

RO,
My definition of a liberal pacifist is one for whom pacifism has become, not a sign of contradiction by which a separated church stands against a violent world as a witness to the coming Kingdom of God, but one for whom pacifism has become a policy of statecraft - a political stance for secular nation states. Liberal pacifists advocate disarmament and unilateral surrender by secular states like the US, Israel etc. in the face of Muslim, Communist or other aggression. Do yo agree with this definition or not? If not why not?

We have had lots of Mennonites with MCC experience in Palestine right here on this blog who fit that definition of liberal pacifism. Their views on Israel are exactly the same as those of the liberal pacifist Episcopalians, Methodists, Lutherans etc. in the WCC. They may have started out as Mennonite pacifists, but they have evolved into liberal pacifists as a result of their adopting the politics of their fellow NGO workers who are not Mennonite and who have no deep tradition of pacifism.

Yoder appeared to reject the vocational pacifism typical of most Mennonites and to embrace liberal pacifism, although his writings are somewhat ambiguous. To the extent he did, he also fell victim to liberal pacifism, unfortunately.

I have never seen pacifism as a morally correct policy for secular states which do not confess faith in Christ; nor do I believe such a policy can be anything other than utopian and dangerous. It seems to deny original sin and assume the possibility of the perfectibility of man outside of Christ.

As for your point that Israel is not weak. That seems very important to you but it seems irrelevant to justice. If the child of the richest man in town is murdered, it is still murder. So what if Israel has a strong military? If a suicide bomber blows up a bus, civilians die no matter how strong the military is and the Israeli state has a moral duty to protect its women and children.

R.O. Flyer said...

Yet, Christians confess that Christ is Lord not just of the church, but of the world, which includes the secular nation-state. The type of two-kingdom theology you're working with here, where the state lies morally outside the Lordship of Christ, is certainly not Yoderian.

The point isn't the size of the military, in terms of justice, but the use of that military force. When Israel responds to a suicide attack or a kidnapping by clusterbombing Palestine or Lebanon and killing 100 times more civilians then this is problematic, even on just war grounds! If you defend Israel's right to defend itself, you should at least use just war criteria to critique abuses.

Craig Carter said...

RO,
You use Yoder like fundamentalists use the Bible. See any difficulty there? Can't you ever just talk about what you believe instead of hiding behind Yoder?

You didn't answer my question directly - as usual. So I'll take your answer as meaning that for you there is only one kind of pacifism and it applies here and now to all people - Christian and non-Christian - and all states - confessionally Christian, atheistic and other.

OK, if that is what you believe then you are utopian and naive. There is no support for that kind of pacifism in the Bible or the tradition. Liberal pacifism arises out of the Enlightenment denial of a Christian worldview.

I was all along applying the just war logic, which Israel professes to believe, to its behaviour, but you have been condemning Israel for not being pacifist and me for not condemning Israel for not being pacifist. You can't shift ground that easily.

It seems to me from the way you argue that your conclusion is known in advance and any argument that ends up with a "Guilty" verdict on Israel is acceptable.

R.O. Flyer said...

I'm really getting tired of all the inferences, Craig.

1) I have never condemned Israel for "not being pacifist." Once again, for a Christian pacifist to critique state violence, whether the state in question is Christian or non-Christian does not make one a "liberal pacifist."

2) To say that Christ is Lord over both church and world is not just a Yoderian point, but a biblical one. And one that you have not addressed. The idea that there is some other moral realm within which the non-Christian state thinks strikes me as profoundly irresponsible theologically. If Yoder isn't helpful here, try reading Henri de Lubac.

I'm not sure how to respond to your accusation about me using Yoder as a "fundamentalist." I use Yoder in our conversations as a tactic, more than anything else. I'm using Yoder as a way to show how your thought stands in sharp discontinuity with the theologian that you chose to write your doctoral dissertation on and who you continue to write and speak about. I'm simply trying to point how sharply Yoder would disagree with you on almost everything. If you are going to dismiss me as a "liberal pacifist" and continue to infer stupid caricatures of a position that I do not hold, then I can't really do anything about that.

Daniel said...

This is an interesting and important discussion. It is akin to one on another blog that was dealing with a Christian understanding of Zizek's "Viloence." May I repost a reply here for your consideration. I think Zizek’s points on ‘systemic violence’ need to be reckoned with. Perhaps any Anabaptists on the site would comment on their early interactions with Indians in the colonies and US during our continental expansion/genocide. Quakers and Anabaptists heroically strived to deal justly and non-violently with native peoples, but the mere fact of their existence passively contributed to colonial expansion. Emmanuel Levinas cites Pascal’s pensses lamenting that the “…I is detestable. In the sovereign affirmation of the I, the perseverance of beings in there being is repeated, but also the consciousness of the horror that egoism inspires in myself…my place in the sun is the image of usurpation of the whole earth.” “My place in the sun,” also references the Talmud, that even my shadow robs life and sunlight from a blade of grass. What then are we to do? Are we at best hostages, benignly complicit in a crime for which we, against our will, help the perpetrators escape and profit—indeed, the very fact of our ‘innocence’ is where and why our value as hostage obtains! But, Levinas goes farther “we are all guilty of everything all the time, and me more than all the rest,” Levinas wrote, after surviving the Nazi’s; what can he mean by that, where does this sense of guilt come from? Can God be hostage or guilty bystander? Meanwhile the uncountable body count raises with the ocean’s tides and the murderous sun assaults our collateral--shadows, while at a ‘bible study’ last week the liberal Christians debated the moral virtues of cloth diapers over disposable. But shit must be attended to in any case! So what are we to do? (sorry, read the next post to find out!) obliged, Daniel.

Daniel said...

'So what are we to do...' Why not take the whole family to visit “Ohio’s First and Finest Outdoor Drama!” at Gnadenhutten Ohio. I have been there, just down river from Sandusky where I lived for a short while. It’s a historical re-enactment of Ohio pioneer days. It boasts “a cast and crew numbering over 70 people to bring this epic production to life. Professional actors, singers and dancers, brilliant lighting, authentic looking costumes, horses, battle pyrotechnics and a state-of-the-art sound system combine for an outstanding evening of family entertainment. Ohio’s First and Finest Outdoor Drama.” Among the features is a glossed over acct of the Gnadenhutten (huts of grace) massacre. The Lenape’ (Delaware) Indians, it turns out, caught between English, French and American God-smacked nation-building fervor faced some difficult choices. Fight, Flee, submit, integrate, convert. The pacifist Moravian missionaries had been active among the Delawares and had made many converts. While some Delawares fought with the English and some fought with the Americans, the Christian converts chose to submit and integrate and live peacefully among their conquerors in ‘Huts of Grace’. Of those that fought with the Americans, the few survivors were rewarded with starvation, murder and relocation to Oklahoma. Those that fought with the English suffered the same fate but were relocated to Ontario. However, those that followed the Moravians in peaceful non-violence were set upon by Ohio militiamen. Given that the militiamen were also Christians, they allowed the 96 men, women and children lenape’ converts to pray through the night. In the morning they lined them all up on their knees, and as the 96 prayed the militiamen took turns bashing in their heads with a large mallet (they were conserving ammunition). There was some outrage and moral condemnation back in the comfortable living rooms in Boston and Philadelphia but the boats kept landing and the immigrants, many fleeing persecution, injustice, starvation and oppression themselves, kept filling the wagons and heading West, their shadows leading them all the way to the Pacific ocean, and to Whidbey island, where I now live. Up in Coupeville we also have a festival every spring. Natives come from all over the Northwest to race canoes and sell traditional arts and crafts (my wife is the tribal liaison among the various tribes). We offer a ‘free’ dinner to all the Native Americans who participate on Sat. night and hand out complimentary T-shirts. We raised our first child in cloth diapers, and the latter 2 in disposable. How about youall? How do you deal with all this shit? Fight, flee, integrate, submit; kneel and die praying or prayerfully wield the hammer? Write indignant op-ed’s to the Boston Herald expressing moral outrage over the latest massacre? Cloth or disposable? The Indians hereabouts traditionally used shaved cedar and deer moss, but not anymore. obliged, shalom, Daniel. ( i apologize for the length...'never again,')

Alain said...

Hi, Craig,

You write:

"We have had lots of Mennonites with MCC experience in Palestine right here on this blog who fit that definition of liberal pacifism."

Could you link where you've had comments on your blog from "these Mennonites with MCC experience in Palestine?" I have had quite a bit of experience in the Occupied Territories with MCC, and did some poking around on your blog, but didn't see comments from anyone I recognized as having MCC experience in the OT. I take your word that the comments are there--it would be nice to have the link to see what was said. Thanks.

FYI, having worked with MCC in the OT, I'd readily affirm your definition of Christian pacifism as "a sign by which a separated church stands against a violent world as a witness to the coming Kingdom of God." Alain

6p00d83451b54369e2 said...

Isn't it time we retired the Munich metaphor? The last time it got trotted out--late 2002 to early 2003--it didn't wear all that well. Besides, no one in the U.S. government is saying to Iran, "We really don't want to bomb you, and as a gesture of our goodwill we will let you annex the Shia majority regions of southern Iraq."

Also, I think liberal pacifists are pretty awesome. In a perfect world we would not have to choose between Walter Rauschenbusch and Dick Cheney, but if those were my choices, well, picking the Baptist preacher is a no-brainer.

What's really naive is thinking that you can bomb a Middle Eastern country into Jeffersonian Democracy. Dangerously naive because unlike the handful of people who think that the State of Israel ought to unilaterally disarm, neo-con naivete actually ran the most powerful government on earth for eight long years. Which is why days such as these cry out for a new Reinhold Neibuhr, who was pretty good at skewering naivete wherever he found it.

Yours,
Marvin

Craig Carter said...

Look folks,
This discussion is going nowhere because I'm boxing with shadows. Every time I post on Israel I get lots of criticism, but from what position it is hard to tell. Most of the posters are Mennonites or people influenced by Yoder, so I assume they are pacifists, but maybe they are working on the basis of just war. Who knows. Nobody but me seems willing to lay their cards on the table and say what should be done and why.

I said two things that have prompted much objection.

1. That Hamas, not Israel, should be held responsible for the civilian deaths in the recent Gaza war because a) they started it by firing missiles into villages in Israel and b) they positioned their rockets in densely populated areas knowing that if Israel took out the rocket launchers civilian casualities would be inevitable. That put Israel in the position of either letting its civilians be killed or killing Palestinaian civilians. This is Hamas' fault. (When Israel is condemned for this, it sounds like the critics think it would be ok for Jewish civilians to be killed and Israel should do nothing. If you don't think this, what is your alternative suggestion for what Israel should do? Do you agree with Ahmadinejad that they should go "back to Europe"?)

2. I said that Israel should not unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank without a two-state solution, a monitored peace deal and guarantees from somebody in a position to make such guarantees that the West Bank won't become another Hezollah stronghold like Lebanon has, only right on Israel's doorstep. (Calls for withdrawal that seem to assume that it is something Israel should and can do on its own seem to be to be suspiciously like calls to simply move the frontlines closer to Tel Aviv.)

All I hear is a) Israel uses disporportionate force and b) Israel should withdraw from the occupied territories.

As for a) Israel is remarkably restrained in my opinion; see above. As for b) they are only occupying those territories because they were attacked by the surrounding nations who had declared their intention to wipe the Jewish state off the map. If they withdrew tomorrow they might well have to re-conquer the West Bank in 6 months to stop rockets from falling on Tel Aviv.

Condemnatation of Israel's re-invasion of Gaza and calls for unilateral withdrawal are, in my opinion, cheap ways for Westerners to make themselves feel good but are not real solutions outside a comprehensive peace agreement. Unless Iran is brought to heel by the UN (or by somebody) and her sponsorship of terrorism in Gaza and Lebanon is stopped, just calling on Israel to withdraw fails to address the real issues.

I asked on an earlier thread if the people commenting believed in a 2 state solution or not and nobody answered. I'm not debating with anyone any more who does not answer this fundamental question because, as we all know, the existence or not of the Jewish state of Israel is what is at stake in the answer to it. Are you assuming that Israel must survive or are you assuming that all the land of Israel/Palestine should become one nation with an Arab majority?

Daniel said...

Hi Craig, I am new here and think your questions are important and worth serious reflection (as are RO Flyer’s responses). Don’t want to shadowbox so let me lay my cards on the table. I come from a variety of perspectives and traditions. I study Talmud and Torah, and have an ardent affinity with Judaism (one part of my family’s heritage). My adopted son finished 6 yrs of military service in the Israeli Defense forces in 2007 and is now traveling in Europe and will be moving to Vancouver in December. I am a Roman Catholic in good standing but have a complicated relationship with the church (more Franciscan that Jesuit). I have not read Yoder for 20 yrs but I have great respect for him. In Israel, I entertain passionate arguments between the followers of the Gaon of Vilna and the Baal Shem Tov, I respect them both (they often excommunicate(d) each other. I read Benedict XVI and I am painting an Icon of Spinoza. So, the question you asked “do you believe in a 2 state solution or not?” deserves some more serious reflection (reckon my post above didn’t do it for you, I apologize). Obliged, Daniel. (Alain, i would like to learn more about MCC work in OT and Gaza, thanks)

Nathan said...

"Ahmadinejad is no better than Hitler; and for once the parallel is literally accurate and justified. He is a vicious, unrepentant, open anti-semite with a publicly-announced, murderous agenda."

Craig, has Ahmadinejad ever threatened violence against the Israeli people? The only thing I have heard along those lines is the "must be wiped from the face of the map" comment, but that has some problems in translation. Are there sources for his murderous agenda other than that?

Alain said...

Craig,

I'll take it from your response that there have not in fact been commenters on your blog who are self-identified Mennonites who have worked with MCC in the Occupied Territories. Thanks for the clarification.

You ask whether people are for a two-state solution or not. As someone who did work for MCC for eleven years, having the privilege to live and worship with Palestinian Christians and to support the work of Israeli Jews and Palestinians (both Muslim and Christian) working nonviolently for a future of justice and peace, I'll give my brief answer to your question. I'm for a future in which Palestinians and Israeli Jews might live in landed security--a future in which both peoples might live securely "under vine and fig tree." The current reality arguably gives that for neither--and certainly not for Palestinians. In contrast, I think that either a two-state solution or a future of one, binational state could provide both Israeli Jews and Palestinians with landed security. I've elaborated more on that in my book, States of Exile (Herald Press, 2008), which draws heavily on Yoder.

From browsing through your blog, I think it's safe to say that you and I would have sharply different readings of the historical record--e.g. what happened in 1948, in 1967, etc. That said, as someone who has benefited from your Politics of the Cross, I would appreciate and undoubtedly benefit, one way or another, from your thoughts on and critiques of States of Exile if you ever have the chance to read it. Cheers, Alain

Craig Carter said...

Nathan,
Reuters, Sept. 18, reports:

TEHRAN (Reuters) - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the Holocaust a lie Friday, raising the stakes against Israel just as world powers try to decide how to deal with the nuclear ambitions of an Iran in political turmoil.

"The pretext (Holocaust) for the creation of the Zionist regime (Israel) is false ... It is a lie based on an unprovable and mythical claim," he told worshippers at Tehran University at the end of an annual anti-Israel "Qods (Jerusalem) Day" rally.

"Confronting the Zionist regime is a national and religious duty."

Ahmadinejad's anti-Western comments on the Holocaust have caused international outcry and isolated Iran, which is at loggerheads with the West over its nuclear program.

The hardline president warned leaders of Western-allied Arab and Muslim countries about dealing with Israel.

"This regime (Israel) will not last long. Do not tie your fate to it ... This regime has no future. Its life has come to an end," he said in a speech broadcast live on state radio.

Germany said Ahmadinejad was a "disgrace to his country."

"This sheer anti-Semitism demands our collective condemnation. We will continue to confront it decisively in the future," Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Ahmadinejad's comment "only serves to isolate Iran further from the world."

Ahmadinejad won support from Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah which fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006. "Our belief and creed ... remain that Israel is an illegal entity, a cancerous tumor, that must cease to exist," Nasrallah said in a televised address.

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE58H17S20090918

Craig Carter said...

In an interview with Time Magazine Ahmadinejad advocated the return of all Palestinian refugees and then a one-state solution with an Arab majority.

TIME: You have been quoted as saying Israel should be wiped off the map. Was that merely rhetoric, or do you mean it?

Ahmadinejad: People in the world are free to think the way they wish. We do not insist they should change their views. Our position toward the Palestinian question is clear: we say that a nation has been displaced from its own land. Palestinian people are killed in their own lands, by those who are not original inhabitants, and they have come from far areas of the world and have occupied those homes. Our suggestion is that the 5 million Palestinian refugees come back to their homes, and then the entire people on those lands hold a referendum and choose their own system of government. This is a democratic and popular way. Do you have any other suggestions?

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1535777-2,00.html

It seems to me that many Western liberals are coming round to agreeing with Ahmadinejad and disagreeing with the UN partition of Palestine in 1947. Israel accepted that partition, the Arab countries did not, and all the war since then has flowed from this disagreement. It revolves around whether or not a state of Israel should continue to exist.

Nathan said...

Craig, you still have not shown whether Ahmadinejad has murderous intent against the Israeli people. Yes, he advocates for regime change, and yes, he is a holocaust-denier. But are those the same thing as having a murderous agenda? I only ask because I looked into this last night and could never find any explicit quotation where he threatened violence against the people of Israel. In fact, he often couches his comments about "regime change" in the context of the fall of the USSR - that is, a nonviolent revolution.

You also must take into consideration the internal politics of Iran. Ahmadinejad as president is the head of government, but he does not control the military or foreign policy. So he can be as crazy as he wants, but the Supreme Leader is still in control.

Look, I'm not trying to support Ahmadinejad here. He's no friend to my country, and he spreads lots of dangerous ideas. But I think the Hitler comparison is overblown and dangerous. He does advocate regime change (the removal of the government of Israel), but you advocate the same fate for the Islamic Republic of Iran. I could be persuaded by primary sources, of course.

Craig Carter said...

Nathan,
So let me get this straight. You think:
1. Ahmadinejad is a holocaust denier.
2. He advocates the end of the State of Israel as a Jewish state.
3. But he wants to do it through "nonviolent revolution."
4. And he can't be compared to Hitler because he is not advocating genocide. (If any of this is wrong, please correct me.)

Yet, Iran is arming Hamas and Hezbollah and using them as its proxies to attack Israel constantly. Or are stories like this one just "Zionist propoganda"?

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1088986.html

As for the president of Iran having little power, my question to you is this: "What kind of regime is happy to have a holocaust denier as its public face to the world?"

If you really think Iran is no threat to Israel if it get nuclear weapons, then all I can say is that if you had been around in 1938 you likely would have been calling Churchill a right-wing agitator and alarmist.

billysunday said...

Why won't you answer Alain's comments?

Nathan said...

Yes, you are correct in your points. 1-3 are the publicly stated positions of Ahmadinejad so far as I can tell. As for #4, I think the inappropriateness of a comparison with Hitler is broader than the lack of genocide. How about the lack of territorial expansion?

Hamas and Hezbollah need to be treated separately, since I am fairly certain that Hezbollah has not been engaging in any overt hostility toward Israel since the 2006 war. If Iran really is arming Hamas and commissioning attacks, that is not good. But is that truly comparable with Hitler? The United States has many times in recent decades armed irregular groups in various parts of the world.

"If you really think Iran is no threat to Israel if it get nuclear weapons, then all I can say is that if you had been around in 1938 you likely would have been calling Churchill a right-wing agitator and alarmist."

There's no doubt a nuclear-armed Iran is a threat to Israel (just as a nuclear-armed Israel has been a threat to Iran). Does the principle of nuclear deterrence not apply in this situation for some reason? This Iranian regime you so detest has also ruled out the use of nuclear weapons and military first-strike as against Islam. You are probably correct that if Iran achieved nuclear weapons, it would probably be as a bargaining chip with the international community.

Interesting historical note: When Israel destroyed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981 (a preventative strike), conservative superhero Ronald Reagan's administration actually condemned the action by means of a UN Security Council resolution. The vote was unanimous, so it looks like Thatcher was in on it too.

billysunday said...

Nathan, just to warn you, your appeal to facts of history and logic are likely to be met with irate fuming very shortly. But I suppose you know that already.

Craig Carter said...

Nathan,
I don't agree that we can know that genocide would not be the path Iran would take if it thought it could get away with it (which is why Iran should not be allowed to get nuclear weapons). For me, denying the holocaust opens one to having people suspect you of genocidal intentions. (I am referring of course here to Ahmadinejad, and to mid-Eastern Arabs more broadly.)

Second, Ahmadinejad and Hitler both have a common root motivation: hatred of the Jews as the cause of many of the world's problems. This is an irrational hatred that expresses itself politically and militarily in a head of state.

Third, there is territorial expansion in Iran's intent. They want Jerusalem to be purely Muslim; they want the Israeli state authority dismantled that stands in the way of that.

Fourth, the only reason Arab Muslims are in the Holy Land is that their ancestors came there and conquored those that were there before. Jews, Greeks, and the Christianized Roman Empire were all there prior to the Muslims. So for Muslims to complain that someone conquored land they only held by conquest is inconsistent. They are invaders not natives, which is often conveniently forgotten. Not all "Crusaders" come from the West.

billysunday said...

So then I suppose since the U.S. and Canada were won by conquest (and genocide) it would not be wrong for a foreign power to invade these countries as well?

R.O. Flyer said...

Alain's book is fantastic, Craig. You should definitely read it. That said, like billysunday, I too think you should take the time to respond to Alain's comments.

Craig Carter said...

Nathan,
You asked for facts. The website of the US National Holocaust Museum has a section on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which says:

"Many school textbooks throughout the Arab and Islamic world teach the Protocols as fact. Countless political speeches, editorials, and even children's cartoons are derived from the Protocols. In 2002Egypt's government-sponsored television aired a miniseries based on the Protocols, an event condemned by the U.S. State Department. The Palestinian organization Hamas draws in part on the Protocols to justify its terrorism against Israeli civilians."

I assume you know about the sordid history of this forgery and the great harm it has done over the past century.

The point is that anti-semitism is not just a quirk of Ahmadinejad the individual. It is another commonality between him and Hitler, whose Nazi movement used the Protocols extensively. See:

http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10007058

jatyson said...

I second that Alain's book is fantastic. I'm anticipating Craig's response to Alain's comments as well.

Craig Carter said...

Alain,
In response to my last post, someone who I only know as jatayson angrily swore at me and commented:

"I've spent ample time in with Palestinians and Israelis. Have you? Ever spend weeks on weeks living with Palestinians, on the other side of the wall? I don't need a clue, I've got the memories and the relationships, what the hell do you have?"

Maybe I was wrong to assume he was MCC. I have no way to know, so I take it back. Maybe no MCC experienced workers disagree with me. I'd love to think so and I won't say so again unless one of them does so openly.

I also can't prove that commentators on this blog don't advocate a two-state solution. Most won't say. They just pigeon-hole me as a Neo-Con, (which takes the place of the Devil in their religion), and have a go at me. But they are repeating views that are often held by those who believe the Israeli state is illegitimate. If they don't believe that, they should say so lest people think they do when they are going on about how evil Israel is.

Alain, you write:

"In contrast, I think that either a two-state solution or a future of one, binational state could provide both Israeli Jews and Palestinians with landed security."

I can't see any way a one-state solution, with the Jews reduced to a minority status with no power, would ever provide security for the Jews. For historical reasons, I can't see Israel agreeing to it. It would be just too dangerous - even irresponsible.

And I can't see how withdrawal from the West Bank would provide security for Israeli citizens who depend on their government to protect them, absent a comprehensive peace agreement with guarantees of Israeli security from the UN, the Arab nations, the Palestinians, the EU and the US.

I understand that people may differ in their opinions. But I believe that Israel deserves a state in their historic homeland, real security and freedom from anti-semitism and aggression. And I think anyone who wants to see the Palestinians in their own state needs to work on both the needs of Palestinians and Israelis at the same time. Demonizing Israel is not helpful to anyone, especially Palestinians.

Alain said...

Hi, Craig,

Thanks for your note. I have to confess that I mostly lurk on blogs and rarely comment; I enjoy reading those who blog and those who comment, but fear that I'm probably not terribly gifted in the medium. All of that by way of saying that it would be good to sit down face to face and discuss Israel-Palestine sometime.

A couple of thoughts:

1. I certainly agree that demonizing Israelis is not good. I join my Israeli Jewish friends in believing that it is part of loving Israelis to be concerned about, even vigorously critique, unjust Israeli actions.
2. Of course not all is sweetness and light among Palestinians. Being dispossessed and under occupation does not make Palestinians less susceptible to hatred or hateful ideologies than any other people in this fallen world. Nor, I would contend, are they more prone to such hatred; thinking that Palestinians, or Arabs, or Muslims, are particularly prone to such hatreds is of course a form of demonization, one which I assume you would also deplore. Both Israeli and Palestinian society has elements which dream of the other disappearing. One simply has to read the hate-filled talk-backs to articles on the Haaretz or Jerusalem Post websites, or note the widespread prevalence of "Death to Arabs" graffiti in Israel. Such dreams of a pure space in which the Palestinian or Israeli other is not to be found are to be rejected, whether these are dreams of Palestinians and Israelis.
3. I'll readily grant that a one, bi-national state solution at the present time might seem unrealistic; it is certainly a vision held to by only a minority of Palestinians and Israelis. That said, I'll side with Martin Buber, Judah Magnes, and the Brit Shalom circle in thinking that a binational state could in fact be deeply compatible with landed security for Jews and with Zionism understood in a particular way (i.e. not in terms of demographic superiority).
4. In any case, the present reality is today of one, binational state, one in which there is one sovereign state between the river and the sea--and in which the millions of Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip are denied the rights of citizenship. Leaving aside any moral considerations, the political-military sustainability of such a situation from the Israeli side for the long term is questionable.
5. Israeli demographer Arnon Soffer, who routinely describes Palestinians as a demographic "threat" who must be contained, has predicted that by 2050 the number of Palestinians living inside Israel proper (i.e. not in the West Bank or Gaza) with Israeli citizenship (aka "Israeli Arabs") will equal the number of Jews in Israel. Will Israel then cease to be a Jewish state? Will Jews in Israel cease to be secure? Should steps be taken to curtail the supposed threat that Palestinians in Israel pose--e.g. the "transfer" of Palestinians from Israel? These are live questions within Israeli Jewish political discourse. Even if there is a two-state solution tomorrow, along the lines, say, of the Geneva Initiative, with Palestinians getting a state in the West Bank and Gaza in exchange for relinquishing refugee return, such questions will endure.

I should probably stop there. I'm mindful of the fact that you and I undoubtedly read the historical record quite differently; I'm skeptical about the ability to convince one another about such matters through the back-and-forth of a blog comment section. I would simply hope that you and I could share the prayer that all of God's children in the land of Palestine-Israel, be they Israeli or Palestinian, Jewish, Muslim, or Christian, might soon, very soon, live securely and as good neighbors; and that the church in Israel and in the Occupied Territories live as a city on a hill, a light unto the nations.

Peace, Alain

Craig Carter said...

Alain,
Thank you for your irenic comments. We do read the situation differently, but I have to say I agree that your point 5. is a very important one, that will need to be addressed in the not-too-distant future if a refuge for Jews is to endure in the Holy Land.

Daniel said...

Alain, I have ordered your book. I have a few questions about your work in the OT, and MCC in General (in Gaza as well). If you read this and are open to it my email is dannya54@whidbey.com. thanks and i look fwd to your book, Daniel.

Andy Alexis-Baker said...

Hi Craig,

I agree that we cannot necessarily expect states to be nonviolent. Even if they are "nonviolent" that very nonviolence would be a technique for even tighter control of the population, why else would they adopt it than that it is a better technique for the elite to maintain their power?

I suspect we agree about that.

I was surprised though that you are suggesting that even though we cannot expect states to be nonviolent, that that seems to mean we should not be critical when they use or threaten to use violence. I am not sure it is liberal pacifism to be critical of that violence, while at the same time understanding that the world is the world, not the church.

Moreover, it is quite something else to suggest that any state should pre-emptively attack another, or to appear to condone violence from states. Even in a situation like a military going into a nation to help stop a genocide, I cannot see how a pacifist can condone it. The proper response may be silence on a particular issue. Tragedy is part of the world. Our response is not to advocate violence, but to be there for the victims, and I doubt there will ever be a time when though we are silent on one issue, we will not have something to say on another related one.

I am also a little surprised about your comments on Yoder. If I read them rightly, you seem to be suggesting that Yoder should have advocated a vocational pacifism, but he slipped into liberal pacifism sometimes. That seems to put the options narrowly, and of course Yoder spent his entire life navigating between those two extremes.

As an aside:
Alain's book is very good. I suspect you would get a lot from it, Craig. He's no liberal pacifist, but neither is he going to sit back and be a vocational pacifist like Mennonites who fell for Niebuhr did. I don't have a solution to the Middle East, and don't think I need to have one. Alain's comments seem good to me, and less aggressive than your post.